Michael Stephen Portnoy (born April 20, 1967) is a Jewish American drummer primarily known as the drummer and backing vocalist for the progressive metal band Dream Theater. Known for his drumming prowess and technical skill, Portnoy has won twenty-three awards from the Modern Drummer magazine. He has co-produced the last five Dream Theater albums with guitarist John Petrucci, starting from Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. From A Change of Seasons onwards, Portnoy has been writing a substantial amount of Dream Theater's lyrics, filling the void left by Kevin Moore, who left the band after the band's release of Awake. He is the second youngest person (after Neil Peart) to be inducted into the Modern Drummer's Hall of Fame, at 37 years of age.

Pre-Dream Theater history

Mike Portnoy was born April 20, 1967 and raised on Long Island in Long Beach, New York.[1] According to a post made by Jordan Rudess on his forum, Mike is ethnically Jewish but does not practice Judaism religiously. His father worked as a DJ at a local radio station, helping Portnoy gain an appreciation for music at an early age particularly, as Portnoy has pointed out, because he had access to his father's collection of LPs. He developed a preference for bands including Rush, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Iron Maiden, and The Beatles, among many others. Although Portnoy claims to be self-taught as a drummer, he did take music theory classes in high school. During that period he began playing in local bands, two of which (Rising Power and Inner Sanctum) recorded and released an independent album. He left Inner Sanctum (the last high school band) after being awarded a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston; however, he left Berklee soon afterward. There, he met John Petrucci and John Myung. They formed a band, initially taking name "Majesty" before changing the name to Dream Theater.

Mike has a strong loquacious personality and a maniacal precision for every activity (especially music) he makes: he, benevolently, describes himself a "neurotic obsessive-compulsive" (a fact confirmed explicitly by John Petrucci in an interview contained in the DVD "Chaos In Motion 2007/2008").

Awards and recognition

Portnoy has won twenty-three awards from Modern Drummer magazine, including "Best Up & Coming Talent" (once) "Best Clinician" (two times), "Best Educational Video/DVD" (two times), "Best recorded performance" (6 times) and "Best Progressive Rock Drummer" (for 12 consecutive years), and is also the second youngest person (at 37 years of age) to be inducted into the Rock Drummer Hall of Fame since Neil Peart was inducted in 1983 (at 31 years of age). And has most recently won The Spirit of Prog award from the 2009 Classic Rock awards with his band Dream Theater, where they were also nominated for Album of the Year for their release, Black Clouds and Silver Linings.

He has also been the catalyst for founding several other progressive rock groups and projects: Transatlantic, Liquid Tension Experiment, and O.S.I. (with former Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore), touring as well with Mexican drummer "Chucho" Dávila giving free clinic sessions to local Music Stores in Texas in 2005.

He has released three instructional videos, "Progressive Drum Concepts", "Liquid Drum Theater", which has won awards from Modern Drummer Magazine, and his latest "In Constant Motion". He has also released many "Official Bootlegs" on his website, including footage of the studio sessions for the Dream Theater albums Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Train of Thought, Octavarium and the Transatlantic release Bridge Across Forever. He has also released bootlegs of his tribute bands "Hammer of the Gods" (a Led Zeppelin tribute), "Yellow Matter Custard" (The Beatles), Cygnus and the "Sea Monsters" (Rush), and "Amazing Journey" (The Who).

On September 18, 2006 within his website's Forum Portnoy cagily stated that he had finally met one of his drummer heroes from youth from the band Rush; drummer Neil Peart (one of the few heroes from his youth Portnoy had never met, owing to Peart's legendary privacy), that "Neil and I have finally met and we spent some time together this week and had a great time..." [1], and that a possible collaboration was underway/had been discussed with the teasing statement of "Patience everybody... all will soon be revealed!" It has now been revealed that this meeting was for an interview Portnoy did for his stint as guest editor of Rhythm Magazine.[2] Portnoy had previously written the liner notes for the Japanese pressing of Rush's 2002 release Vapor Trails [3], but also publicly denounced Peart in 2000 after Peart called the people involved in the Rush tribute "bar bands" [2] It was later determined that it was a misunderstanding; Portnoy was not a part of the tribute band in question.

In the October 2009 issue of Rhythm Magazine, Portnoy was listed as #5 in their list of the Top 50 Drummers of All Time. [4]

Personal life

Mike and his wife Marlene are currently living in suburban Pennsylvania with their children, Melody Ruthandrea and Max John.


With Dream Theater

  • 1989 - When Dream and Day Unite
  • 1992 - Images and Words
  • 1993 - Live at the Marquee (Live)
  • 1994 - Awake
  • 1995 - A Change of Seasons (EP)
  • 1997 - Falling Into Infinity
  • 1998 - Once in a LIVEtime (Live)
  • 1999 - Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
  • 2001 - Live Scenes From New York (Live)
  • 2002 - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
  • 2003 - Train of Thought
  • 2004 - Live at Budokan (Live)
  • 2005 - Octavarium
  • 2006 - Score (Live)
  • 2007 - Systematic Chaos
  • 2008 - Greatest Hit (...and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)
  • 2008 - Chaos in Motion (Live)
  • 2009 - Black Clouds & Silver Linings

With Liquid Tension Experiment

  • 1998 - Liquid Tension Experiment
  • 1999 - Liquid Tension Experiment 2
  • 2007 - Spontaneous Combustion (as Liquid Trio Experiment)
  • 2009 - When the Keyboard Breaks: Live in Chicago (CD) (As Liquid Trio Experiment 2)

With Transatlantic

  • 2000 - SMPT:e
  • 2001 - Live in America (Live)
  • 2001 - Bridge Across Forever
  • 2003 - Transatlantic Demos by Neal Morse
  • 2003 - SMPT:e (The Roine Stolt Mixes: circa 1999)
  • 2003 - Live in Europe (Live)
  • 2009 - The Whirlwind

With Neal Morse

  • 2003 - Testimony
  • 2004 - One
  • 2004 - Testimony Live DVD
  • 2005 - ?
  • 2006 - Cover to Cover
  • 2007 - Sola Scriptura
  • 2008 - Lifeline

With OSI

  • 2003 - Office of Strategic Influence
  • 2006 - Free
  • 2006 - re:free

With John Arch

  • 2003 - A Twist of Fate

Tribute Shows (CD and DVD)

(available at only)

  • One Night in New York City - Yellow Matter Custard (2003) (The Beatles) with Paul Gilbert, Neal Morse and Matt Bissonette
  • Two Nights In North America - Hammer of the Gods (2006) (Led Zeppelin) with Paul Gilbert, Daniel Gildenlöw, and Dave LaRue
  • One Night in Chicago - Cygnus and the Sea Monsters (2006) (Rush) with Paul Gilbert, Sean Malone, and Jason McMaster
  • One Night in New York City - Amazing Journey (2007) (The Who) with Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan and Gary Cherone

With selected musicians

  • 1984 - Rising Power: Power For The People (out of print)
  • 1986 - Inner Sanctum: 12 A.M. (out of print)

Instructional DVD Releases

Mike Portnoy has released several instructional drumming videos/DVDs. These include:

  • "Progressive Drum Concepts" (Rittor Music 1995 1 VHS/DVD)
  • "Liquid Drum Theater" (Hudson Music 2000 2 DVDs)
  • "In Constant Motion" (Hudson Music 2007, 3 DVDs)

Portnoy's self filmed performances

Mike has also self-released "drum-cam" DVDs of the last several Dream Theater and side project recording sessions through his own "MP4" production company. These are "in-studio" recordings typically consisting of Full Band, Isolated Drums tracks, and an Audio Commentary. These releases are only available for sale on Portrom the store.

  • "Asian Clinic Tour" (MP4 Productions 2001, 1 DVD) (out of print)
  • "Ten Degrees of Turbulent Drumming" (MP4 Productions 2002, 1 DVD)
  • "Drums Across Forever" (MP4 Productions 2002, 1 DVD)
  • "Drums of Thought" (MP4 Productions 2004, 1 DVD)
  • "Live at Budokan" (MP4 Production 2005, 1 DVD)
  • "Mike Portnoy - Drumavarium" (MP4 Productions 2005, 1 DVD)
  • "sysDRUMatic chaos" (MP4 Productions 2007, 1 DVD)
  • "SCORE" (MP4 Productions 2008, 1 DVD)
  • "Black Clouds & Silver Drumming" (MP4 Productions 2009, 1 DVD)


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Mike Portnoy. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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